The invention of the first pacemaker was certainly one of the most important milestones in medical and technological progress. Unfortunately, their design hasn’t changed much since then, so the way these devices regulate the pace of our main pump is quite limited.
Fortunately, science does not stand still. A team of scientists led by Julian Paton of the University of Auckland has developed a new type of bionic pacemaker called the Cysoni.
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It differs from traditional pacemakers in that it reacts to signals sent by the patient’s body in real time, thanks to which it is able to stimulate the heart muscle rhythm much better and adapt it to the current needs of the body. The main monitored parameter is the patient’s breathing.
“If you analyze the frequencies within your heart rate, you will discover that your heart rate is related to your breathing,” explains Julian Paton of the University of Auckland.
A bionic pacemaker for heart failure
Cygnis was created for patients suffering from heart failure. Due to this condition, the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. In addition, the condition is also characterized by a loss of natural heart rate variability – restoring it beyond the capabilities of today’s pacemakers. Hence the idea to create a new type of this device.
The Cygnis bionic pacemaker is designed to restore heart rate variability by monitoring the lungs and detecting electrical signals generated by the body while breathing. Based on this data, the device generates precisely synchronized pulses to speed up or slow down the heart rate as needed. The first animal tests looked very promising.
Our study showed that introducing natural heart rate variability improves the heart’s ability to pump blood through the body. Says Rohit Ramchandra, one of the authors of the study.
Developers of the new type of pacemaker say their device could revolutionize the way patients with heart failure are stimulated in the future. Of course, before that happens, the bionic pacemaker has to go through a phase of human clinical trials. There is a good chance that they will start this year.